Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Jake's Word: In Response to "The Long View of American History" by Jack Random.

In response to "The Long View of American History: The Fall before the Rise" by Jack Random (reprinted below).

"But we do know that the laws of economics will not be suspended by public sentiment."

Yes! Why does the public not understand this? Do we have to be reduced to a third world economic structure before people realize they've been had?

It does seem that real change can only be realized in the wake of great catastrophe - usually catastrophes that could have been avoided. Is rationality so alien to the majority of humans most of the time?

To add to the confusion, the 10:10 campaign releases a video in which people that disagree with them are blown up. This was supposed to be funny. It isn't. When the the result was overwhelmingly negative, they pulled the video, but too late. It has gone viral. Is this really the work of an environmental group concerned about the future, or right-wing propaganda out of left field?

Obviously the polemic is out of control from all sides. Before the U.S. presidential election of 2004 people were asking if a nation of people could collectively lose their minds. It seems that they can. Germany in the 1930s leaps to mind. Worse yet, the problem has gone global as corporatism, under the name of austerity campaigns, deprives people of the services their taxes pay for while the rich get tax breaks and corporations are allowed to do as they please beyond any real legal restraint.

Does it all have to fall apart before we wake up? I hope not. Waking up in a new dark ages would be like waking up in a cave. How many centuries, how many generations, would have to pass before we recovered?

Sadly, no matter what we say, or how we vote, and I will be voting, it seems to be out of our hands.

Take care,



By Jack Random

It seems to me that anyone who has a vision of real and systemic change in government must inevitably come to terms with the reality that change is a long-term proposition. It is improbable that we are the change we’ve been looking for or that the change we seek will come in our lifetimes.

Historic change requires a convergence of events far beyond our collective ability to control or create it.

History instructs us that change often requires a catalyst in the form of a catastrophe, a disaster or a tragedy so profound it touches the heart and invades the psyche of every man, woman and child who bears witness.

At a time when news was carried primarily by word of mouth from tavern to tavern, from church to public hall, on the wings of an emerging independent press, the Boston Massacre was such an event. Analogous in some ways to Kent State and Jackson State in 1970 it was widely perceived as the first occasion where those charged with protecting us, turned on us and killed our fellow beings for merely asserting their rights of citizenship. It struck a deep chord with the American colonists and propelled us forward toward the war for independence.

The great upheaval of the Civil War ended the scourge of state sanctioned slavery in America.

The Great Depression of the 1930’s combined with the rise of unions and the rights of the working class gave rise to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, ending forever this nation’s philosophic indifference to the poor, the infirm and the elderly under the guise of “rugged individualism.”

The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 hurled us into global politics and the great upheaval of World War II. It unleashed America’s industrial might (now all but vanished) and eventually altered the balance of powers, setting the stage for over four decades of the Cold War.

The change from cataclysmic events is not always positive. In our own lifetimes we experienced such an event with the attack on the towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and an unknown third target. It precipitated a policy of aggressive war and a bold attempt by a brash and all too eager administration to dominate the world by capturing its key supply of oil. We can only imagine how many lives and how much damage to the economy, to civil liberties and to the nation’s reputation in world politics resulted from the Neocon reign of terror.

We have not even begun to glimpse the end of the costs attributable to the Bush administration and foreign policy is only half the story. We very nearly experienced a second cataclysmic event during our lifetime and it came to fruition only seven years after the September 11 attack.

As a direct result of the Bush administration policies (an overextended military, a burgeoning debt, tax cuts favoring the wealthy, deregulation, job exportation, on and on), an out of control financial system pushed us to the brink of global economic collapse.

Owing largely to a massive injection of capital from the public coffers to the private sector we narrowly escaped the cataclysm of an implosion that would surely have led to a second Great Depression. We were left with the lingering effects of a great recession: long-term unemployment, depressed wages, diminished home values, depreciating benefits and an ever-increasing gap between the elite and the working class. But we were spared the cataclysm that would have triggered systemic change.

As one who believes in change, who believes that the democratic form of government requires constant change to curtail the growing power of international corporations, I am reluctant to conclude that total economic collapse might have been the better long-term option but that is the possibility that now presents itself.

For it appears that we as a people have learned little to nothing of the hard lessons delivered by a near collapse. Indeed, those who seem to dominate our political discourse today either refuse to believe it happened or refuse to connect the dots between the economic pain we are currently suffering and the policies that created it.

As we continue down this path of blind denial it seems probable that we will soon elect a sufficient number of unknowing, irresponsible, corporate sponsored politicians, so blind to our economic realities that they will paralyze government indefinitely.

We are asking for trouble.

We will continue marching like lemmings to the sea toward the next economic breakdown only this time congress will be sworn against a government bailout and the chief executive will be disinclined to ask.

There will be no comfort in being among those who warned the general public of pending disaster.

Will there be another Great Depression? No one knows. But we do know that the laws of economics will not be suspended by public sentiment.

We are living in times when historical events are accelerating and the government’s ability to keep pace is dramatically diminished. With the power of corporations growing like the weeds of an untended garden it is hardly the time to rip the heart out of the only counterforce that can hold it in check.

In the long term, perhaps a second Great Depression is inevitable and maybe it is needed to deliver the lessons that should have been learned from lesser disasters.

If this is our destiny, it is my hope that like the Phoenix we will rise from the ruins greater, wiser, more democratic and more humane.



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